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Popes help end international conflict
The Pope stands in the international arena as a unique authority without traditional elements of influence that countries hold. In place of an impressive military or a large economy, the Pope controls the hearts and minds of 1.28 billion Catholics globally.

Over the course of the past century, various Popes have stepped up in international discussions as mediators, condemned human rights violations and organized days of prayers and fasting for those caught in conflict zones. Here are the five most well-known examples of how Popes helped end international conflict.

Pope Benedict XV and WWI

Pope Benedict initially attempted to stop Italy from entering WWI and, when that failed, he offered papal peace mediation throughout the war. He wrote up the 1917 Papal Peace Appeal, which focused on free seas, war reparations, disarmament and Belgian independence. It emerged as a skeleton of a treaty that the leaders of the various states would expand upon, the negotiations in which “the Holy See would not necessarily itself be involved.” In the end, the Treaty of Versailles copied the points of the Papal Peace Appeal two years prior but excluded the Pope from talks.

Pope John Paul II and Poland’s Solidarity

As a native Pole, Pope John Paul became personally invested in the swift conclusion of martial law in Communist Poland in 1981. The Pope directed the Primate of Poland to meet with the Polish Prime Minister at the time, Wojciech Jaruzelski, to broker peace talks between the worker union Solidarity and the government. Additionally, John Paul II published a letter in which he substantiated this meeting and supported the goal of peace.

Pope John Paul II, Israel and Palestine

In 1993, after three years of negotiations, the Pope established diplomatic relations with Israel under the condition the country invite him to regional summits. When talks broke down between Israel and Palestine after the 1994 mosque massacre in the West Bank, the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin asked Pope John Paul II to help restart the discussions. Unfortunately, the Palestine Liberation Chairman, Yasser Arafat, rejected this offer of mediation due to his resolute stance that he would not resume talks unless the Israelis guaranteed that Palestinian women, children and holy sites would have protection. By 2000, the Holy See legitimized Palestinian territory, stopping just short of fully recognizing it. This put the Vatican on extremely good terms with both Israel and Palestine and strengthened its sway in the region.

Pope Francis, Israel and Palestine

In a continuation of the previous Pope’s work in the region, Pope Francis invited the leaders of Palestine and Israel to the Vatican for a day of prayer in 2014. He requested both sides to live in peace together, advocating for the two-state solution. Rather than force politically charged discussions, the Pope simply brought the two leaders together for a prayer summit followed by a private discussion. Years later, Francis’ 2018 Christmas Address further urged for peace in the region.

Pope Francis and South Sudan

South Sudan, with 70 percent of its population Christian, plunged into civil war in 2013 after an alleged coup that the vice president designed. Two years into the conflict, Pope Francis privately met with South Sudanese President Kiir in Uganda while he was visiting the region. In a similar manner to how other Popes helped end an international conflict before them, Francis aimed to create an open dialogue between the warring factions. In 2019, Pope Francis invited President Kiir to the Vatican to discuss and encourage the implementation of the 2019 ceasefire agreement.

By wielding their immense power in these five instances, these popes helped end international conflicts. At the very least, their efforts as a neutral party created opportunities for hostile forces to move towards peace. While this list highlights major interventions by recent popes, these men also influence international politics every day in extraordinarily subtle and powerful ways.

Daria Locher
Photo: Flickr

What Homeland Security Is
Homeland Security is often misperceived as a constant battle with bad guys and making sure the enemy does not harm the nation. While Homeland Security does work to protect against terrorism, its goals are even broader.

As defined by the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, the department works to guarantee “a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards.” By ensuring security in all areas of life, resilience against harm and safety through customs and exchange, Homeland Security can protect the nation from various versions of injury.

The Department of Homeland Security describes its goals as follows:

  1. Prevent terrorism and enhance security
  2. Secure and manage our borders
  3. Enforce and administer our immigration laws
  4. Safeguard and secure cyberspace
  5. Ensure resilience to disaster

The branches of Homeland Security frequently work with the public to ensure safety from occupational hazards, disasters and threats to cyber-harm and terrorism.

One tactic used as an advantage in Homeland Security is “soft power.” Soft power is the ability to persuade others that they want the same end goal as yourself without the use of force or violence. The term can also mean altering the general public’s opinion, usually through non-transparent ways.

Most large nations have a strong Homeland Security department to protect their citizens. Though the U.S. official department was formally created in 2002, the presence of the United States in other countries had been felt long beforehand.

During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt used a great deal of soft power with his Four Freedoms to convince Americans and those around the world to support his efforts. Although the Four Freedoms were morally high in stature, it allowed him to persuade others that they wanted the same as him and the United States.

Soft power has been used plenty of other times throughout American history, but it has also been seen around the world. For example, Pope John Paul II made a trip to Poland in 1979 and, according to Homeland Security Today, “influenced events against Poland’s Communist regime, the Soviet Empire, and ultimately Communism.”

The influence strong nations have through soft power on global issues, including poverty, can be life-changing. Supporting acts and initiatives to reduce poverty around the globe can create leverage over other countries that are less sure about helping the world’s poor.

Although these strong nations have the power to push efforts through, reasons to better their own positions are usually included. By reducing poverty around the world, threatening terrorist actions can be reduced.

A majority of terrorists resort to joining terrorist groups in order to provide for their family. When groups such as ISIS offer exceedingly high pensions, it is hard for struggling families in poverty-stricken countries to decline the offer.

By improving the widespread poverty situation around the world, the globe becomes a safer home for those living in all countries.

– Katherine Wyant

Sources: Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Today
Photo: Climate and Security

Quotes About Humanity
War. Poverty. Crime. Hunger. With all of the injustices that exist in today’s world, it can be easy to lose faith in humanity. We may ask ourselves, “Why should we care if no one else does? Nothing ever seems to change or get any better, so we might as well accept the world as it is.”

Although it is important to acknowledge the existing injustices and view them as serious issues that need to be resolved, it is equally important for us to realize our own part in seeing those solutions become part of reality. The following quotes about humanity may explain and hopefully inspire us:

  1. “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  2. “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” – Nelson Mandela
  3. “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama
  4. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  5. “What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.” – Voltaire
  6. “World belongs to humanity, not this leader, that leader or that king or prince or religious leader. World belongs to humanity.” – Dalai Lama
  7. “When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society.” – Pope John Paul II
  8. “One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.” – Joseph Campbell
  9. “The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.” – Leo Tolstoy
  10. “During bad circumstances, which is the human inheritance, you must decide not to be reduced. You have your humanity, and you must not allow anything to reduce that. We are obliged to know we are global citizens. Disasters remind us we are world citizens, whether we like it or not.” – Maya Angelou
  11. “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” – Albert Schweitzer
  12. “The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.” – Mahatma Gandhi

As these quotes about humanity reveal, it can be difficult to explain human nature, but that does not mean we should lose faith or hope in ourselves or others. The Borgen Project promotes the idea that we each have the power within ourselves to change the world, which is one of the most beautiful abilities of humanity.

– Meghan Orner

Sources: Brainy Quote, Good Reads
Photo: Flickr